The EFL Cup enters the third round stage, and the big boys now get involved in the thick of the action.
There are some classic encounters with the South Coast derby involving Portsmouth and Southampton, while previous EFL Cup shock merchants MK Dons take on current Premier League leaders Liverpool.
Our football betting expert previews the big games and runs through his best bets for the pick of the matches.
Portsmouth v Southampton
The South Coast derby is the tie of the round as the rivals collide for the first time in a competitive fixture since 2012.
There will be plenty of local bragging rights up for stake, and this has the makings of a potential banana skin for Southampton.
Pompey’s league form to date has been extremely poor, especially following last season’s play-off defeat, and Kenny Jackett’s side have won just one of the seven league games.
Form often goes out of the window in games like this though and will be boosted by their recent cup exploits in this competition having beaten Championship sides Birmingham and QPR last season.
Both sides have struggled for goals so far this season, with Portsmouth netting just nine in seven league games, and the Saints are only scored six.
This is likely to be a typically scrappy encounter with goals at a premium. Pompey are the side who will raise their performance levels and I fancy the hosts to cause an upset and win to nil at 6/1 looks well worth backing.
Arsenal v Nottingham Forest
This is another fixture which has upset written all over it.
The Gunners have been well below par so far this season, having squandered a 2-0 lead at Watford the previous week, and having to do plenty of hard work to come from behind and defeat Aston Villa at the weekend.
Nottingham Forest have enjoyed a solid start to the Championship and are nine matches without defeat, and have won four of their last five.
Forest have previous against the Gunners, recording a memorable 4-2 win in the FA Cup last year, and are 11/2 to replicate that feat tomorrow night.
Arsenal are leaky at the back, having kept just one clean sheet in their six games this season, while Nottingham Forest have scored in all 10 games this season.
With that in mind, the bet which stands out is Arsenal to win, and both teams to score, which can be backed at 8/5.
MK Dons v Liverpool
MK Dons host the Premier League leaders at Stadium:mk on Wednesday night, and will be keen to inflict another Cup shock.
They pulled off the shock of all shocks when stunning Man Utd 4-0 in this competition back in 2014, and they will look to summon that spirit once more.
The hosts come into the game having suffered back-to-back 1-0 losses to Ipswich and Southend, but before that had won three on the bounce.
They have suffered three home defeats this season, all without scoring, and although Jurgen Klopp is likely to rest a few of his star players, they should still have too much for the Dons.
MK are likely to raise their game for this encounter so I fancy them to get on the scoresheet, so a bet on both teams to score and Liverpool to win looks good value at 8/5.
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